Bill Robinson reports from Ship Lane….
West Ham United Ladies 4 Brighton & Hove Albion Ladies 5
FA Tesco Premier League South.
It was a nine goal thriller but gifting the visitors a three goal lead in the first fifthteen minutes meant it was always going to be an uphill struggle for West Ham to maintain their unbeaten record.
Brighton were the first to get into their stride but it could have all been different when within the first minute Tracy Dubury had an effort on goal that was foiled.
Brighton scored on 8 minutes 10 minutes and 15 minutes, the first from a corner, the second was a tap in after Toni Anne-Wayne saved a deflected defensive header and the third was a strike from Jemma Fraser on the edge of the penalty area.
This left the young Hammers bewildered and disillusioned, yet two minutes after going three down Beck Merritt reduced the deficit when she turned and shot from about 10 yards out to beat the keeper.
The visitors were still looking good for their lead whilst the Hammers started to try and recover from the shock start, but no further goals were scored in the first forty five minutes.
The Hammers came out for the second period hoping to get back into the game as soon as possible, but unfortunately after just two minutes from the restart Brighton scored their fourth.
A run by Brighton winger Kim Whitcombe down the right flank and from 20 yards out her flighted shot curled over the keepers head and into the top left hand corner of the net.
West Ham manger decided then to make some tactical substitutions, bringing on Carly Roache and Nina Downham for Woodgates and Southgate.
Within sixty seconds both Roache and Downham had combined together for Nina Downham to tap in West Ham’s second from Carly Roache’s cross.
The visitors were being pushed back deeper into their own half as the Hammers pushed four players forward looking for those elusive goals.
On 73 minutes Toni Anne-Wayne made a finger tip save pushing the ball onto the bar and collecting the rebound.
With only three minutes of normal time remaining Brighton broke away again and this time a super strike from Sarah Kempson saw the ball fly past the keeper and into the net.
All seemed lost now but West Ham continued to push on, on 91 minutes a low hard cross came in from the right and defender Libby Pritchard diverted the ball into her own goal.
Could the impossible happen, as the frenzy continued another goal came West Ham’s way, this time a low driving shot from the right from Gemma Shepherd found the back of the net.
Panic was setting in and tempers flared as West Ham tried to use every available second to find the equaliser, but with four minutes of added time played the referee called time much to the relief of the Brighton team.
West Ham Ladies: Toni-Anne Wayne, Ruby Southgate, Jess Barling, Joanne Woodgates, Rosey Sullivan, Natalie Grafton, Jo Wosahlo Emma Thomas, Tracy Duxbury, Gemma Shepherd, Becky Merritt,
Subs: Carly Roache, Nina Downham, Stacey Little